Sometimes choices are hard to make. I talked about that last week, referring to Luke 18:18-43. In that story, Jesus met a guy and asked him to make a very hard choice. This guy wanted to follow Jesus. He had a bunch of money, and Jesus told him “sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.”
Whew. Do you feel the intense emotion of that situation? It seems this guy genuinely wants to follow Jesus, or at least is truly interested in the idea. But when faced with the choice, he goes away sad. His sadness tells me that he hoped he could follow Jesus. Maybe he saw something intriguing in Jesus. But when asked to break free from the hold his wealth had on him, and actually give himself to the better way of Jesus, the man could not or would not break free.
Could you? Would you break free? It is so easy to sit here today and say “Sure! I would give up everything for Jesus.”
So I encourage you to allow Jesus to ask you what he said to the rich man: What is the one thing you lack? What is holding you back from following Jesus? It could be something holding you back from starting to follow Jesus for the first time. It could something holding you back from following him in a more significant way. It might not be riches.
What is holding you back? TV time? Your cell phone? Really, it can be anything. Ministry. Career. Hobby. Sports team. Something very intangible. Having a clean house.
What are you so preoccupied with that is keeping you from following Jesus?
Social Media. Some of us put a lot of time into social media.
Are children an idol? Over programmed kids can lead to you and your family missing out on participation in your church community.
Or there is Helicopter parenting. Kids used to be allowed to run around town all day, just needing to be home for dinner. But now…not even close. Now many parents live through their kids.
What about housing? Keeping up with the Joneses. Getting a new car. Are you a slave to appearances? Is this getting in the way of you following Jesus? Do you realize that if Christians in American tithed, gave 10%, we would have more than enough to provide clean water for every person on the planet. But we don’t give 10% because we can’t give 10% because that money is already accounted for in our bills, mortgages, car payments, vacations, and subscriptions and hobbies. And we say that we are just barely making it.
What is standing in the way of you following Jesus more?
Jesus’ disciple, Peter, makes a great statement in verse 28, realizing that the disciples had left all, they allowed nothing to stand in the way of Jesus. And Jesus explains further that we have to remove all blockades to following him. Riches and wealth, but also family!
Would you be willing to pray “Lord, what in my life is getting in the way of following you more?”
Would you be willing to allow God to speak through his people by asking that question of someone who will speak truth “Friend, what in my life is getting in the way of following Jesus?”
There is another person in this story who had to make a choice. In verses 35-39 we meet a really cool blind man who is persistent in trying to get close to Jesus.
He knew who Jesus was. He knew he needed mercy. Twice says “have mercy on me”! He had a humble, teachable heart. Even after being told to be quiet, he gets louder! He knew Jesus was the answer to his dilemma and he got louder! Maybe you and I need to get louder in asking God to come near to us.
Jesus stops. He wants to be with the man. Near him. And then Jesus asks what seems to be a question with an obvious answer: “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man’s response is to be expected, “Lord, I want to see.”
Why would Jesus ask this? He already knew what the man needed. But Jesus asks him to be specific. There is something deeply faithful about praying a very specific request. When we pray too often we can be safe, vague. “Help the missionaries”. But when we pray specifically, we are putting it out there and saying that God and God alone has to come through in a specific way. It is scary to be so specific because what if what we are asking for doesn’t happen?
If Jesus asked you this question “what do you want me to do for you?” what would you say?
Notice in verses 42-43 where Jesus says the man’s faith healed him. Is Jesus saying that faith will heal anything we ask about? If we have enough faith, we can get what we want? No. Jesus is not making a blanket statement. Instead he is just describing what one man’s faith did in that situation.
And so now seeing, he chose to follow Jesus, praising God. He’s getting loud about God again! Then others praise God. They catch on.
Did you notice the contrast between the two choosers?:
Rich man calls Jesus “good teacher”.
Blind man calls him “Son of David”.
Rich man was blind to what was holding him back.
Blind man could see what he needed.
Rich man, after being asked to follow, does not follow Jesus.
Blind man, after not being asked, does follow Jesus.
Rich man goes away sad.
Blind man goes away rejoicing.
We all face a choice about following Jesus. Right now he may be asking you to give up something that is holding you back. What is it? What is holding you back?
The blind man found that following Jesus was the best possible way to live. He had nothing to his name but the shirt on his back, and yet he was happy as could be following Jesus! Jesus changed his life.
Will you choose to set aside what is holding you back? Will you choose to step out and follow him?
I would love to hear what is holding you back! Will you talk about it?
The blind beggar chose well! When we let go of the things that hold us back, we’ll realize that the way of Jesus, the life of Jesus, is so much better than anything this world has to offer!